Police Chief: Terror threat getting younger

Australian Police Chief Andrew Colvin.
Australian Police Chief Andrew Colvin. Contributed

THE "extraordinary" power of the internet in recruiting young extremists was underlined at an anti-terrorism summit on Thursday and Australia's police chief warned that terror suspects were getting even younger.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull met with education heads and top intelligence and police officials in Canberra to share information on how to tackle terror threats.

The summit followed confirmation a 12-year-old boy was being watched by police in connection with the murder of police accountant Curtis Cheng.

Mr Cheng was shot dead by 15-year-old Farhad Jabar outside police headquarters in Parramatta on October 2.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said he was shocked a 12-year-old was on the police radar.

"This threat has evolved - it's become younger," Mr Colvin said.

The PM told the meeting it was critical they worked together to address the "evolving threat".

"This is a real home-grown threat. And it appals all Australians and it all appals all Muslim Australians," Mr Turnbull said.

The power of the internet in luring young people towards extremism formed part of the discussions.

This technological transformation, the PM said, had been remarkable but posed great challenges for security.

Mr Turnbull added that engaging with the Muslim community was critical and stressed the importance of "mutual respect".

Radicalisation expert Robyn Torok said addressing root causes and early intervention would be vital in tackling the problem and it needed a community-minded approach.

Dr Torok, a lecturer at the Security Research Institute at Edith Cowan University, said community programs should include Muslim youth leaders and mental health workers who worked directly with the young people being targeted.

Addressing the use of social media by extremists was also critical, she said.

"Islamic State has a very professional propaganda arm and it's very well circulated on social media. It's the main platform they recruit from," she said.

Topics:  islam police politics terrorism

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